The Question of Neurophage

Sylia in Grand MalWhen Bubblegum Crisis ended abruptly in Japan, people began to ask questions about the incidents that were never explained. There were quite a few, but the most common one is whether or not Sylia Stingray is a Boomer. This question may sound ludicrous at first, but when one delves deep into the series, it begins to make perfect sense.

With this question asked, debates were spurred instantly. The majority of fans would readily laugh aloud at the very insinuation that the leader of the Knight Sabers is anything but a highly intelligent, talented woman with possible augmentations. Others found it apparent that, yes, Sylia was something other than human. But what? An android? Most thought that was too extreme. A cyborg? Still too extreme in many people's eyes, and there was never a time or date given when Sylia would or could become such. An enhanced human after she got the Data Unit? Of course, there is always the obvious question: How does a Data Unit allow people to do what Sylia does? It wouldn't. Last, but not least, is neurophage.

This comes from Adam Warren's American comic called Grand Mal, which looks at the actions of the Knight Sabers in 2031, before the anime began. In its own right, Grand Mal is not hideous. As a BGC prequel, it's not all that great. Some characters look completely different from the way they did in the anime/manga from Japan, others act nothing like they did in the original works, others are missing from the story which hurts it immensely, and new characters were generally left widely unexplained and unlike the high standards BGC had set. The fact that Grand Mal is American also hurts its credibility considerably.

Sylia in Red Eyes

Adam Warren's theory on Sylia has been grasped by a desperate group, however. Most BGC fans want to know what Largo meant when he transmitted, not spoke, his thoughts to Sylia in 2033 after their battle atop GENOM Tower. Largo told Sylia that they were two of a kind. What did he mean? He could have meant any number of things if he had spoken the words, but he sent them to her via channels that no one else could hear, directly into her brain, and she responded with her own words and definite shock. That and so many other things Sylia says and does during the series imply that she is not a human being. Warren decided to take a route that was fairly new to BGC fans when he created neurophage.

According to Adam Warren, Doctor Katsuhito Stingray, Sylia's father, operated on her when she was very young, inserting a "neurophage," or an "experimental bio-computer controlled molecular machine," into Sylia's living brain tissue. Over time the neurophage presumably would "disassemble a neuron, molecule by molecule, and replace it with a biocomputerized duplicate." This was supposed to be early on in Doctor Stingray's Boomer research, when he was still trying to create an enhanced version of the human brain for his Boomers. With the neurophage installed, a human being could receive data to his or her brain and keep it there permanently, unaltered. After this, the subject would keep most of his or her personality, emotional, and other characteristics and be able to download information. This was essentially turning the human brain into a software analogue of sorts through the use of the neurophage. With the entire brain converted, it was a supercomputer.

Sylia in Grand MalWarren's theory seems sound enough when looked at from one view, but from another it is not so perfect. This may be due to the fact that he leaves so many little details unexplained that the concept of neurophage sounds ridiculous to anyone who knows much about computers. If you were to look at Sylia's brain, according to Adam Warren it would look like a mass of little insect-like biocomputers, something that occurred over time. One of the major problems with this is that with all the physical activities Sylia does, there is just no way she could not damage her neurophage, particularly with Largo contacting her and all those computers. There is also no evidence at any point that Doctor Stingray operated on Sylia like that. Something like that would have been mentioned in one way or another. In Warren's comic, there is an image of Doctor Stingray telling Sylia he left both her and Mackie "certain gifts." Where does the idea that Mackie is enhanced come from?

The concept of neurophage is wonderful until a die-hard BGC/Sylia/tech fan looks at it for a moment without trying to reason things out without proof that they would work in the first place. People generally accept this theory because it is written under the title Bubblegum Crisis. Then again, if you go over an interview with Warren concerning his work, he admits that Suzuki did not agree with him on many aspects, Sylia included. Grand Mal is not canon; it can't be. But it is intriguing for anyone who is interested in the mystery of Sylia Stingray.

Unlike most BGC fans, I do recommend Grand Mal, especially to those who are interested in Sylia. It's true that the comic is not as good as the anime and much of the time is wasted on gratuitous unrelated or uninteresting scenes, and parts of it are unexplained, but the comic overall is quite interesting and if nothing else, BGC fans should buy the last installment to read about neurophage and how it applies to Sylia Stingray and Bubblegum Crisis.

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